We've had a lot of good meals here at the Fragrant Harbour and hopefully I'll get to writing about them soon, but as the title suggests this post is about my experience with stinky tofu. I've heard a lot about this delicacy from travel show hosts, particularly Andrew Zimmern, Anthony Bourdain, and Janet Hsieh. It's reputed to be one of the world's more adventurous foods, often placed in the same level of funkiness with balut and century egg. Now, I like balut and century egg, so I thought stinky tofu shouldn't be that bad.
So there I saw stinky tofu on one of the street stalls around the Ladies' Market, deep fried and sitting on a strainer-- two large, greasy pieces skewered on bamboo satay sticks cost HKD 15.00. It was crisp and golden brown, not unlike the other deep-fried tofus we get at Chinese restaurants or at home. It did start reeking its fermented smell at that point, but it's still ok. Nothing horrid. Yet.
The real assault starts on the first bite-- it has the same texture as other fried tofu, but with the taste of what I think would be the taste of thick cotton socks used for one week straight on a trek through a humid jungle then left in a cupboard with raw fish for a month. No, I have to correct myself-- the stinky tofu was worse than that.
Being true to Zimmern's philosophy I finished one piece, which was all I could take. I just had to throw away the other one, and if you know me you'll know that's something I do not do with a light heart. The worst part was the aftertaste-- it stays with you in your stomach for a long time and, several hours and more than a few drinks and dishes after, I can still taste it especially when I have a burp.
So, yes, my adventurous tastebuds have met their match. I wouldn't want to have to eat (or smell) stinky tofu again, but I have to say I'm glad I tried it. At least I can relate with Zimmern, Bourdain, or Hsieh when they say how disgusting it is. Being a foodie isn't all about gourmet dishes and haute cuisines. Sometimes, well, stinky tofu happens.